Herbert Moss has a lot of catching up to do. Eight months ago, the Palm Desert, Calif., resident put his life on hold to focus on beating cancer.
And it has been a long life: Moss is 94 years old.
|Herbert Moss (Photo courtesy of Herbert Moss)|
After a routine doctor’s visit last fall, test results showed Moss had malignant stomach cancer. But his oncologist deemed him an unviable candidate for an operation — primarily because of his age and past medical history that included surgery for a stomach ulcer.
“When I was told ‘you’ve got cancer,’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “But I’m feisty and I was determined this cancer wouldn’t keep me down.”
So Moss sought a second opinion.
He visited City of Hope and met Joseph Kim, M.D., associate professor in the Division of General Oncologic Surgery, who would become his surgeon. Encouraged by Moss’ health and vigor, Kim refused to let age alone dictate therapy.
“Sometimes age can have a bearing on the suitability of surgery as the primary treatment,” Kim said. “But we look at the physical ability of each patient rather than absolute age when discussing treatment options. Mr. Moss was indeed a unique case.”
Kim recommended surgery to remove a portion of his stomach. Rehabilitation would take time, requiring that Moss stop or at least postpone his everyday activities such as going to the gym. Even in retirement, Moss was always on the go, so resting would be an adjustment.
“People don’t think they should operate on a man of my age,” said Moss. “But I’m no ordinary man. I traveled all over the world for 35 years when I was a corporate executive. And even though I’m retired, I’m still and always have been as active as they come. Slowing down just wasn’t something I’ve ever really done.”
In late February, Moss underwent surgery to remove his stomach cancer. During the procedure, Kim made an encouraging discovery: The cancer had not spread. He was able to proceed with the operation to remove the tumor in Moss’ stomach.
Moss spent a week in the hospital before his discharge into a skilled nursing facility at his retirement community. Rehabilitation took only 10 days. Then came the biggest surprise: Because Moss’ tumor was completely removed, his medical team recommended no chemotherapy or radiation treatment after surgery.
Kim finds Moss’ surgery and subsequent recovery inspiring. “Here at City of Hope, we are always pushing the boundaries to provide the best for our patients, and Mr. Moss is a perfect example that one size does not fit all,” he said.
Today, Moss is back to his normal activities and his now cancer-free life. Recently he renewed his driver’s license and he exercises regularly at his community’s workout room. He plans to resume his post on the retirement community’s resident council, too.
“I feel very fortunate,” said Moss. “I might’ve taken a slight detour, but life seems to be back on track now.”